Is Brandon being neglected? Councillor slams Haverhill funding bid decision
A Brandon councillor says he is “incandescent with rage” after Haverhill was chosen as the town which could benefit from a slice of a £675million government funding pot.
Victor Lukaniuk, West Suffolk Independents county councillor for Brandon, said he feels the town “is being neglected” in terms of investment, and has criticised the decision of west Suffolk councils.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council, which will merge to form the single West Suffolk Council next month, said Haverhill was the “best fit” for the recently announced Future High Street Fund.
The fund allows councils across the country to apply for grants to improve town centres.
Mr Lukaniuk said: “This was a great chance for the newly amalagamated West Suffolk Council to make a difference and improve people’s quality of life in Brandon.
“Brandon is being neglected. It was a poor decision and the people making that decision were poorly informed.
“Brandon is attempting to implement an HGV ban and the High Street has not been resurfaced for 15 years.
“In my opinion, the process was flawed and that is why four of Brandon’s five district councillors have signed to call the decision in. We are incandescent with rage.”
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In a joint statement, Susan Glossop, St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for planning and growth and Lance Stanbury, Forest Heath District Council cabinet member for planning and growth, said: “We fight hard for all our towns and rural areas either investing ourselves or attracting hundreds of thousands of pounds of external funding.
“Like most funds we make bids for there are strict criteria to meet and in this case we looked at all towns and Haverhill best met those criteria and so has the better chance of success.
“All our towns and areas have their opportunities and challenges. Both Brandon and Haverhill are below the national limit for air quality with similar readings.
“In approaching funding opportunities we give consideration to what best fits the set funding criteria but we also seek to identify which funds will be most likely to deliver committed projects and aspirations across all of our council areas. In this case it was Haverhill.”
The councillors added that Brandon could benefit from a second application which the authority is allowed to make.
“Both we and our officers are well aware of the issues in Brandon and only last year invested in buying Brandon Country Park, successfully bid for funding to invest in life changing social prescribing and we are improving the leisure centre,” they said. “We have also said we would look at working with local members and the county council to improving the road situation as well as looking at a newly announced Stronger Towns Fund from government.
“Unfortunately, like many funds, government only allows a limited number of bids for the Future High Street Fund as we would put every town forward.
“We are allowed a second application which we will be looking at in due course and that of course could be Brandon.”